Valentine's in-depth conversation with Bob Costas


Valentine's in-depth conversation with Bob Costas

Every so often, something in the dozens (and dozens) of e-mails that arrive here daily catches your eye.

Like Bobby Valentine talking about an "amazing" conversation he had with Josh Beckett in which Beckett explained "the method to the madness" as to why he can be so, ah, deliberate on the mound. And how he plans to address the clubhouse problems with the Red Sox. And how he's learned to be less stubborn than he was during earlier managerial stints with the Rangers and Mets. (Hint: His time in Japan helped.)

It's all part of a transcript provided by the MLB Network of Valentine's conversation with Bob Costas for an episode of Studio 42 with Bob Costas that will air Monday at 9 p.m. It was a fascinating read that included . . . aw, you don't need me to tell you. Here's what they sent:

On whether any of the reported clubhouse behavior by Red Sox pitchers in 2011 would continue:
"I certainly hope not. I hope that its not because the big, bad policeman is standing on the corner and monitoring everything that is going on. I hope that its a conscious effort of players, coaches, clubhouse men, trainers all being on the same page, all understanding the difference between right and wrong. And I think they all know that if in fact that happened, that it was wrong and theyll try to right it . . .

"Im sure things will be addressed, but they need to be addressed and they need to get out of the way. We cant make like it really didnt happen. I wasnt here. I dont know what happened, and you know what Bob? I dont care what happened. The only thing I know is because it happened, I am here. Lets face it. So Im not going to try to figure out the past. Im going to try to figure out the present and the future."

On talking with Josh Beckett about his pitching rhythm:
"It was an amazing conversation that I had with him where he educated me about the method to the madness, and it is maddening, I think, for many to watch that. Many of the Yankees did complain. The reason they complained is in this competitive nature that Josh created, if he waited, they lost. They lost their rhythm. They lost their timing and they lost the at-bat. The more victories that he gained by waiting longer, the more he did it . . . Josh was very good. He watches video, he saw the cadence of some of these guys and he disrupted it. They say the job of a hitter is to time the pitch and the job of the pitcher is to disrupt the timing of the hitter. Well, thats what he was doing. Not with his pitches, but his pre-pitch setup. Now, the rule book does say that with nobody on base, it is twelve seconds. Now, maybe theyre going adjust that rule or maybe theyre not going to enforce that rule. Im not sure where were going with that."

On what he expects in 2012:
"Im expecting a wonderful spring training where I can get to know people. I think that this group of guys with the front office structure and the ownership structure and the fandom thats here, the 100-year anniversary of Fenway Park, there is going to be something special going on here this year and I think Im going to be part of it.

"I think Ill put the guys to work and make sure they understand that a foundation is very important and understand that theres nothing wrong with working hard and having fun as youre doing it to build this new group. This is not going to be the same team that started last year that everyone said was going to win 120 games and walk away with one of the toughest divisions in baseball. This is a team that has some question marks that we have to build around. This is a team that has gotten a little older over a year and this is a team that is competing against a lot tougher teams in the American League in 2012 than were here in 2011. So its time to wake up, smell the roses, drink the coffee and lets go to work.

On taking nine years to become a manager again:
"I dont think I was a fit in places like Seattle where theyre trying to build or Cleveland where they have their own sets of rules in things that theyre doing. Thats where the jobs were open. I think this was a questionable fit here and it became more of a fit the more I think Ben Cherington got to know me."

On accepting lineup suggestions from the front office and ownership:
"I dont think its anything new. I think Tom Grieve did that in Texas. Im sure he did. Steve Phillips did it in New York. Even Fred Wilpon a couple times made suggestions about what should be done and you know what? I did it a couple times because I was probably at that time in search of answers and you never know for sure whats that right answer. So yeah, lets try it. We can do that as long as youre willing to risk a few outs, a few innings and maybe even a game."

On what criticism of him has been fair in the past:
"I think early on I thought there was only one way and I got under a lot of peoples skin because of that. I learned that there is more than one way. I continue to try to appreciate and adjust, but there is a line where professionalism needs to exude itself and needs to raise above whatever else is going on, and I like my players to be as professional as they could possibly be."

On hows he learned to be less stubborn:
"I think that Japanese experience of six years of speaking another language in another country, eating another food, becoming a minority, let me understand that I couldnt just say it louder and I couldnt just say it with my name attached to it. I had to prove it and I had to also incorporate some of their ideas into what I was doing. Otherwise I couldnt last there."

On players not running balls out:
"It was too much to ask for the greatest player I ever managed. It was Rickey Henderson. The third time he did that in a Mets uniform was the last time he did it in a Mets uniform. He hit the one, he picked his jersey and he went looking into our dugout and the ball hit the top of the wall. He was at first base and a double play ensued and he was in a new uniform very shortly after."

On the infamous mustache he wore on June 9, 1999 during a New York Mets vs. Toronto Blue Jays game:
"The mustache and the glasses were basically Robin Venturas idea when he said, 'You have to go out there. You have to go out there.' . . . He gave me the glasses, I put them on. He gave me the hat, I put it on. I looked in the mirror and I said, 'No, I dont think this is going to get it,' and I took the eye-black stencil off and put one side on one side of my upper lip and I took the stencil off and put it on the other side and I looked at him and I said, 'What do you think?' and he said, 'Theyll never know.' Ten thousand dollars later and a couple days suspension, they all knew . . . No, I didnt know I was going to get caught. I was just standing there. I was on the bench. I was just standing down the stairs and I was only there for two batters. I wasnt there for the whole game. I guess I thought I would get noticed. I didnt know about caught."

On managing a National League-style of play:
"With 'Moneyball' and with a lot of the new terminologies that are out there, there is this term 'small ball', which is in fact baseball. Thats what baseball is. Home run ball, home run derby is that other thing that was played during the 1990s and strikeout ball is what you play in the backyard, but small ball is baseball, where youre actually advancing runners to gain an advantage to score runs to win the game. At times, baseball needs to be applied in all games that are close games. Sometimes, youre going to score more runs in one inning than the other team scores in the entire game, and those are blowouts and fun and days that I become a spectator a lot more than a director of what might be going on."

Celtics-Bulls preview: C's quickly turn page to new-look Bulls


Celtics-Bulls preview: C's quickly turn page to new-look Bulls

BOSTON – Change is an inevitable when it comes to NBA rosters.

Just as the Boston Celtics significantly altered the outlook many had for them this season by signing Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract, they face a Chicago Bulls team tonight that has also undergone significant change.

The Bulls traded away one favorite son (Derrick Rose) and went about adding another in Dwyane Wade.

In addition to Wade, Chicago also signed former Celtic All-Star Rajon Rondo to join a team headlined by All-Star guard Jimmy Butler.

As easy as it could have been to worry about the struggles they had in disposing of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, the Celtics knew they had to immediately turn the page and shift their focus towards a Chicago Bulls team that’s looking to start its season with a quality win over the Celtics.

“They’re a good team. They have great players over there,” said Jae Crowder. “They’re trying to figure it out. They’re going to be very excited to play of course. We have to take care of business, play the way we want to play and impose our will even more.”

One of the keys to knocking off the Bulls will be to get better play from their second unit.

Boston’s backups were outscored 58-40 but more significant than that was their inability to hold off the late-charging Nets which forced head coach Brad Stevens to bring his starters back on to the floor with about two minutes to play.

Among the reasons contributing to the bench’s ineffective play on Wednesday was the fact that Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) was out.

Remember, Smart has been with the second unit for all of training camp minus the second half of their 121-96 preseason loss to the New York Knicks.

Crowder believes not having Smart, who will be out for another week or so, was indeed a factor in the second unit’s struggles.

“They trying to figure it out on the fly,” Crowder said. “With a few days of practice and probably one tough day of practice without him. It’s tough but they’re figuring it out. There’s no other way to figure it out but in a game. They’ll figure it out as soon as possible.”

Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League

CLEVELAND -- David Ortiz is heading into retirement with some more hardware.

The Boston Red Sox slugger captured the Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday as the top hitter in the American League this season. Budding Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant was honored as the top hitter in the National League.

The award was presented before Game 2 of the World Series between the Cubs and Cleveland. It was determined through a combination of fan voting and a panel that includes Aaron and other Hall of Fame players.

The 40-year-old Ortiz hit .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBIs and 48 doubles in the 20th and final season of his major league career. His 541 career home runs rank 17th all-time.

The 24-year-old Bryant hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs while helping the Cubs cruise to the NL Central title and eventually a spot in the World Series. Shortly after being honored, Bryant singled in the first inning for his first Series hit.